When it came to my inspiration in terms of dance, I guess it was just seeing music videos on TV really! For example, I used to love Neyo’s videos and artists similar to him. It just tickled my fancy and I also have a lot of friends who dance so that also inspired me. It’s something that makes me happy and creates a sense of positive energy for me. When you’re in class and learning a routine it requires all of your focus so if you have things on your mind and need an outlet. For me, it’s always the best thing.
Dance is more of a hobby at the moment, so whatever comes from it is a bonus. But working with Bane, on the Ed Sheeran – ‘Shape of You’ REMIX music video was a fun experience! Bane is a great artist and is very talented, so I’m not surprised that it did so well a sits a great song and he deserves the recognition.
An important aspect of my life is my faith, the place where I get my strength… I used to go to church a little when I was around 17 but I stopped going because of work, however, I’ve always had a belief in God. Just over a year ago, someone told me about a baptism that their church was doing and something told me to just do it, so I did. Since then my relationship with God has been the foundation and center of my life, I’ve gained so much strength that I wasn’t able to give myself.
I’m constantly changing for the better and although I’m not perfect I’m becoming stronger, wiser, more motivated and happier. I have a peace within myself that nothing can take from me and the only place that peace comes from is from God. It’s not just about going to church on a Sunday, its being in the word of God and practicing it throughout the rest of the week so that you become a person who is transformed by his word because of how it manifests within you due to constantly reading and meditating on it. I’ve never felt as happy, as strong or as empowered as I am now and I still have a long way to go but I love how it has changed my life.
A lot of people struggle with change, of course, it’s not easy as from a young age we’ve adopted behaviours and habits that have ultimately moulded our character and the person that we are today. It’s always easy to do what you’re used to, but if you do what you’ve always done then you’re going to be who you have always been but growth requires change! Change is a choice and it takes effort and is never going to be easy but why would you want to live your life and not be the best version of you that you can be.
In terms of my plans for the future… I will continue to dance, simply because it keeps me happy. I have recently graduated with a degree in Sociology and look forward to building my career and progress on my journey with God – bettering myself with each day that he sends.
Nottingham based music artist, HEX, has entered the scene, bringing with him some well-known sounds but with his own unique execution. With a flowing style and touching on the genres of 808’s and soft strings, he has found his own niche in the UK music scene and is aiming to make it his own.
His most recent release, ‘Limitless’, which went viral on Youtube, revealed his creative visual efforts. Putting together a piece that was dark, yet still slick.
Take a read to find out more about HEX, his inspiration in terms of music, and the production behind his songs.
I’ve always loved music, from a young age. I started producing when I was about 12, this was when I got my hands on my first digital workstation, Fruity Loops. That’s where I developed my passion for music…
I’ve always loved melodies and bizarre sounds, which as you can probably hear have influenced my music. As for the inspiration in terms of music, I’ve been surrounded by artists like the Gorillaz, Coldplay, Dido, Eminem and 50 Cent, to name a few. Growing up, I used to listen to a lot of different genres. So when I create music I don’t think it has to be done a certain way, there’s literally no limits or rules.
The track ‘Limitless’, was filmed and directed by KashKam and Kidda Beats. When creating the production, visuals, and sound behind it, everything seemed to fit together and fall into place. Looking back at it now, I think it’s one of those moments when you figure everything out, you realize it all happens for a reason…
Yeah, there has been many challenges and tests but as long as you have the self-belief and you know what you have to do yourself, then I believe you have the ability to go far.
It’s exciting to see what’s going on right now in the whole music industry and the UK music scene is crazy at the moment! Especially coming from the Midlands, it’s great to see other areas around Britain being deservedly recognized for their talent. I definitely think it will keep growing – there’s too much talent for it not to.
Follow @wxveyhex on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with new releases and upcoming events!
‘Me, Myself and I’, the name of his first song released earlier this year, set the bar for his standard. Check it out above…
During my time at university I founded my business, Instant memories.
Instant Memories is a polaroid photo service, established in response to the growing popularity of polaroid pictures. The ethos of Instant memories is to capture special moments in people’s lives, while simultaneously using the power of photography to raise awareness of social issues. I established Instant Memories, in my final year of studying Social Policy, having only just being diagnosed with Dyslexia and a non -verbal learning disorder. I failed GCSE maths 4 times and could barely spell entrepreneur, let alone be one. These struggles really held me back from taking the leap to start my business. However, the support and encouragement from the University of Birmingham and my loved ones really gave me that push I needed. As a result, I am keen to direct my business toward issues that matter; inspiring innovation and overcoming barriers to success. Instant Memories have worked in some of the largest clubs and events in Birmingham, London and Oxford. I recently worked with global brand, Instax at the NEC, which was an incredible, fun experience. However, we have also worked on Victoria’s Secret’s breast cancer campaign, Acorn Children’s Hospice on fundraising events, supported local musical talent events and have even started a homelessness project with St. Basils which will use the “Humans Of New York” style of photography and storytelling to develop awareness. I strongly believe that putting something back into society is so important. Studying Social Policy has given me the insight into the reality and complexity of social issues. We live in a world full of negativity and people often have the misconception that they can’t make a difference, but they really can. The smallest act of kindness can have the world’s biggest impact on someone. Many of us are extremely fortunate and we shouldn’t underestimate the power and opportunity we have, to make a positive impact.
Instant Memories hopes to be an inspiration to young entrepreneurs with learning difficulties and pave the way to social awareness. I honestly believe that anyone can achieve great things if they put their mind to it and are willing to work hard. If you have an idea or aspiration don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, but most importantly don’t tell yourself you can’t! The only way you can overcome barriers to success is by developing yourself – confidence, self-belief and learning from every mistake but most importantly persevering no matter how hard it gets!
I just want to say a huge thank you to the people voting for me for the ‘Women to Watch in 2017’. I can’t put into words how much it means to me and I am forever grateful for your support.
– Katie Fleming
To find out more and vote for Katie click here and follow her business account on Instagram @instant_memories1 or her personal Twitter @Fkatiee
Studying at the University of Birmingham, Lucia currently leads the Help the Homeless society – which she founded during her first year at university. Today, it has 60 monthly volunteers, over 200 members and has raised over £3,000 for homeless charities within the last year. Lucia is also a part of the Green Party’s 30 under 30 cohort, networking with politicians and learning about political campaigning.
Take a read to find out more about Lucia, her motivation behind creating the society, her aims in politics and her thoughts on the whole university experience…
Why did I decide to start the Help the Homeless Society at my university? I just saw all of the homeless people in the City Centre and it really got me down, so I tried to find societies at uni who did work with the homeless. But I was shocked that none of them did! Especially since homelessness is such a big problem in Birmingham today.
So in December 2015 I simply messaged everyone I knew from my University, on Facebook, to see if they would be interested in volunteering. And without much effort, there was a wave of interest! So I contacted lots of charities to see if they needed volunteers and we began volunteering the “We Are Happy Club” social enterprise, handing out lunches to the homeless once a week.
I found that the biggest issue with homelessness is peoples stereotypes about them. Many people think that homeless people are just lazy people who are all addicts – which is incorrect. Many people suffered family breakdowns, mental illness, redundancy from work or have fleed from war to come to this country meaning that they have lost their homes.
Our ultimate aim is to change people’s perceptions of homeless people through education by interacting with homeless people. We feel that we are starting to achieve this aim with our 60 monthly volunteers however we would like to increase this to 100 volunteers next year.
Our goal is also to raise lots of funds for homelessness-related charities, especially within Birmingham. This year we have already raised over £3000 but would like to raise over £5000 next year.
When it comes to politics… I’ve always been really interested in political affairs and my main career goal is to be an MP! I think that UK’s high inequality leads to social incohesion. I would like to work for the Green Party to work towards more investment in deprived areas, more opportunities for people in lower socio-economic groups and more equality for minority groups.
Throughout my journey I have developed as a person by starting and leading the society. I have learnt how to be a leader of a huge team and it has inspired me to want to start my own social enterprise in the future, to maximise the impact I can have on my wider community. Going to university, I learnt that when lots of people work together you can make huge progress and action. For example, I recently created a petition against a local restaurant in selly oak using Foie Gras and after 580 sutdents signed it they decided to take it off of the menu!
To end things, being selected for the Barclays sponsored campaign for ‘Women to Watch in 2017’ for Birmingham students was a honouring achievement! It felt amazing to be picked as I didn’t expect to be recognised for my extra-curricular work. it is also a great platform for me to promote my help the homeless group and attract future volunteers.
Back in 2010, when I was in year 7, I heard Eminem’s album recovery, and as they say…the rest was history! The songs on the album brought out a side of me which I never even knew existed: the side of me that didn’t care what teachers or other people thought of me, the side that used my strongest emotions from within and turned them into something artistic. I guess that was when Hamza turned into Inumz. I was writing rhymes for years and I would skip school assemblies to freestyle with a group of close friends. We’d always talk about how one day people would realise and respect the passion we have for rap.
I’ve always been a kid with a dream, but when I recorded my first professional track in a studio, that was when the dream became more of a vision for me. My first ever song was for my dad (which I gave to him as a fathers’ day gift), which was fitting because if it wasn’t for the support my dad has shown me with my music, I probably wouldn’t be rapping today! I had years worth of verses scribbled down, and it was time to take it to the next level. Studio sessions were booked, songs were released, and I started to get some recognition and respect among my peers for what I was doing.
As a Muslim it was initially pretty hard, as music (especially rap) isn’t looked at as a particularly pleasant thing, however as soon as people started listening to the lyrics that I was writing, I was starting to win them over. That’s when I decided to make a soundcloud and upload my songs there, where I got a few thousand views. After this I released a video for one of my songs, ‘Til the Day, which has so far been received well by listeners. And that’s where I am now: a young rapper with a vision and the determination to turn it to reality.
In music when it comes to inspiration, I would have to say the main artists for me are Eminem, Lowkey, and Akala. Eminem because in some of his music he brings out his pain, while in other songs he brought the fight out in me. Lowkey because I admired his lyrical ability in competition, as well as his crazy ability to talk about current world issues and help us to empathise with people all over the globe. I never really knew about Akala until I heard his first fire in the booth, and that’s when I knew that for me he is one of the best in the UK to ever rap. He maintains skills while still addressing sensitive and controversial topics, not to mention the countless talks and debates he has done where he has shown that your history and upbringing does not determine your intellect.
In a way, music can be therapeutic for me. When talking about life experiences through music it can be a massive help to feel better about who I am today, and to remember that I’m always aiming to improve as a person. I also like to inspire and help others, so for people who lack self esteem, I’d like to bring out that motivation in them and give them that fighting spirit, the same way listening to other rappers’ music did to me.
There are many things people can take away from my music. I’d love for someone who listened to my song ‘Better Man’ to take away the fact that nobody is perfect and the whole aim of our lives is to improve ourselves and not judge others, because we have no idea about what other people are going through. That’s a more fundamental message, but I also want to make people think. I’m currently working on a song called ‘Revolution 2 Rap’ in which I talk about the way in which our media has let us down by allowing the younger generation to believe that violence and gang wars are cool, and I also talk about the fact that we as humans have no idea about our maximum potential, and that with hard work, we’ll succeed far greater than we ever could’ve hoped regardless of our backgrounds or class status.
No one can say they know what the future holds, but right now I’m concentrating on building my future, and I’m not talking the usual way of building a future. I see myself a few years down the line being able to use my music to help the youth of today and influence them to make changes for the best. For me there’s just something so amazing about picking up a pen and a pad, playing a beat and telling a story. When I saw rappers do this, it made me want to tell my story in a way that everyone can understand and I finally had a passion that defined me through and through. Who knows, maybe one day in the future I’ll influence someone to break out of their shell and become the next Inumz!
MasterMinds is a consulting group that aims to empower, educate and enrich individuals, organisations and the communities they serve through shared wisdom. Made up of a multi-speciality team of professionals, their provision of tailored solutions gives them a strong competitive edge, which is evident in the quality of their business management consulting services and initiatives such as a pay-it-forward system.
The MasterMinds network is made up of a vast, interdisciplinary network including but not limited to: doctors, professors, consultants and entrepreneurs. All of whom are happy to share invaluable business strategy advice and ready-made business models that can be adapted to your individuals needs and goals.
Having achieved her doctorate in the Philosophy of Business, MasterMinds’ founder, Dr Amerah Ahmed continued to pursue a career in consulting; working her way up to Senior Advisor at Ernst & Young. Dr. Ahmed sat down with us to unpack what she describes as the five most formulated questions of her existence…the why, the what, the how, the who and the where.
What is the story behind Masterminds?
Whilst at Ernst & Young, which is considered to be the crème de le crème of Consulting… Boredom had finally struck me. Not because I was not challenged, nor obedient, in fact I was most exceedingly ‘best’ practiced at what I did. I just did not feel the moral accomplishment. I felt that I was going in circles and continually banging my head on this very solid wall, which I was unable to ‘breakthrough’. With all the acquired knowledge, I knew there had to be something bigger, what if I could impact people rather than impacting procedures and profitability?
It was then I realised that organisations were all really a mixture of people, and what if I could help people to ‘do’ and ‘think’ better, not just those in organisations – but everywhere. Ambitious I know… but I’d found a purpose!
I was never one seduced by labels or rewards, and I left the organisation whilst I was at my peak. My family and colleagues thought I was arrogant to think I could do it better. I wanted to make a larger contribution to not just my world, but to others using all my knowledge and expertise that I had, as in reality that’s ‘all’ I really am.
Consulting is Consulting, you identify problems and propose solutions and of course show all our working outs in these beautiful glossy reports we share. At MasterMinds Consulting Group…as the saying goes, ‘mind your own business’, well we take that to another extreme in the world of consulting.
We work alongside our clients/partners to really understand the challenges and formulate solutions with them. Our secret is our engagement model. We coach, lead and mentor our clients towards business success and excellence, securing a 2 fold value output.
Solve problems and number 2. Evolve People.
The model developed from the interactions we had with not the executives, but the middle management and the team level. We were humbled to see how 5 minutes of your time could really impact change.
MasterMinds Consulting Group is led by a panel of experts in the field of different business disciplines but also all who are centered around Humanistic leadership.
To be a Mastermind, what does it mean?
We are all MasterMinds in our own right. Each one of us knows something that the other doesn’t. How you shine from the rest is that very ordinary piece of knowledge you have and share it with someone else… that in my book makes you an extraordinary human being.
Where does your inspiration come from?
From all walks of life really. Gandhi, King, Mother Teresa, Mandela, my mother, Father, Sister and 3 brothers who always support me in my quest, and finally my fellow MasterMinds, who inspire me each and every single day, they for I are the heart of the business.
Their actions and purpose in life transformed the 20th century. I want to transform the 21st century through their moral Stature along with engagement with clarity & dignity. I want to paint a picture of change and encourage the courageous to join me to do this.
Whilst we cannot change the world for many… we most definitely can change the world for a few.
With the invention of the internet, we now have access to an enormous pool of knowledge and information. But do you think this resource is being used to its fullest potential, and could you comment on the power of the online world on todays society?
On August the 28th 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King was able to gather over 200’000 people for the movement of discrimination.
Fast forward to 2017…. How do you think his movement would have went with the sheer strength and spread of Social Media? Whilst our time has changed, and we all have a lot to be thankful for, we have become less serving of others but more for ourselves. We have become selfish, self-centered, self-destructive.
Social media is a tool for greatness; we at MasterMinds Consulting Group aim to enrich the lives of individuals by ‘giving’ back and encourage a movement of ‘paying it forward’.
What is the Future Vision for MasterMinds? Do you have any upcoming plans?
The vision for MasterMinds is to have a ‘MasterMinds’ Leaders in every country.
We are currently working on a knowledge & learning management platform, where you can learn and apply your knowledge to your business as you study. From the same platform, you have the opportunity to place your idea forward to a panel to make your idea come alive. Saying that, we are also a community who pay our knowledge to others in communities in a less structured manner as the learning management system.
Finally in no particular order, we are a consulting firm who cover varied organisational challenges. We provide solutions from formulation right up until implementation. What makes MasterMinds Consulting Group special to our customers is the panel of acclaimed business leaders, professors, consultants.
Strategic, Tactical & Operational Management consulting Services, as major majority in this field only provide Strategy & Tactics…. We play all fundamental pieces of the chess board, to provide a full solution. Implementation is far more important than formulation. We lead, mentor & coach the game for better output.
We help startups, support someone to pursue their dreams however pragmatically. We offer key learning modules for someone to understand the business world & thereafter use our business connections for networking & investment.
– To find out more, follow @masterminds_cg on Twitter and Instagram!
I was born in the North of Poland in a little seaside town of Koszalin and am the youngest of four kids. In 1981 my parents decided to leave Poland due to the political situation and move to South Africa. Soon after arriving in SA with only a few suitcases, my dad started his own export/import business. I’d go on business trips with him whenever and wherever I could as he always went to interesting places such as gold mines and remote factories. I learnt a lot about business from my dad. He is a compulsive entrepreneur and optimist with endless energy and everything represents an opportunity. My mum is more steadfast, reserved and academic and she got a job as the Chief Language Practitioner for the SADF. So, we settled in and enjoyed life in SA – the weather, the smell of the plants and ground after it rained… the colourful glow worms in-between the grass blades of our garden at night, the sound of crickets… all of it was magical and enticing.
I was a very happy, social, highly athletic, and bubbly little girl growing up. A bit of a tom boy on my blue BMX, I’d race up and down our street with cuts & bruises on my legs. I played chess, the piano by ear and loved competing in countless public speaking festivals. I also adored nature and would spend hours rescuing bees that fell in the pool. As a teenager, I chose to go to a prestigious boarding school which disciplined me somewhat and polished my manners. I went on to study Information Science at the University of Pretoria and after graduating, quickly got a job at a top IT Consulting company. I landed up specialising in IT telecoms billing systems implementations around the world. I also met my husband at work and it was literally love at first sight! I just saw him in the office, then told my friends that night that I found the man I am going to marry. We did marry, have three beautiful daughters together and he remains the love of my life. We support each other and we are a true team.
One morning our oldest daughter came up to us and said she had a dream about me speaking to Lord Sugar across the boardroom table. It was a very random dream as The Apprentice was not showing on TV at the time. My husband and I thought this must be destiny and I applied for The Apprentice! I had only just started my own Consultancy business leaving the security and prestige of IT Telecoms behind. My dads entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on me and I also wanted to use my ability to communicate much more. So consultancy in place, I decided to go for The Apprentice. I enjoyed the challenge of the auditions and knew that I could win the process. Once in the process though, the deliberately restricted contact with family started to make less and less business sense to me. I realised it was against my values and plain wrong so I chose to leave the process! The prize became going home and not the 250K and a partnership with Lord Sugar. I will continue to fulfil my goals however without compromising my values.
Since The Apprentice I’m still doing consultancy for a select number of brands. I’m also doing quite a bit of motivational speaking for example, for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is amazing. I’ve hired an agent, Thomas Murphy (email@example.com) who is dealing with all media requests as it seems I am pulled in the direction of TV and radio as well. It’s great as my true talents lie in communication and having a platform to communicate is a true blessing. I am very grateful for everything I have and I do not take anything for granted. The most important thing in life is to listen to your heart. This will bring you true success and happiness. You must allow yourself to be yourself. Trust your own judgement and instinct. Never let someone who is wealthier, more popular, older or ‘important’ dictate the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of your life to you because they may be wrong and it’s not their call to make – it’s yours.
Author, Economist and Senior Academic at the University of Cambridge, Ha-Joon Change was born in Seoul, South Korea 1963. Having moved to the UK and graduated from the faculty of Economics and Poltics at Cambridge, where he now teaches, Professor Chang is one of the world’s most distinguished hererodox economists in development economics.
In the 2013 Prospect Magazine, Chang was ranked as one of the top 20 World Thinkers. Receiving two international awards in recognition, his book ‘Kicking Away the Ladder’ won the Myrdal Prize for best monograph by the European Associate for Evolutionary Political Economy. Having worked as a consultant to the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank. Chang has also met with President Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, being a part of his cabinet to give economic recommendations on sustainable investment in education, research and knowledge.
We are excited to be sharing with you an insight into his own opinions on global issues, his reasons for choosing his career path and what keeps him interested in the World of Economics…
What is it about Economics that keeps you particularly motivated to research and keep teaching?
I became interested in economics because I had grown up in South Korea during the height of its ‘economic miracle’, between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. This was the time when the Korean economy was growing at 8%, 10%, and sometimes even 12% per year, producing huge changes all around me. Many of these changes were positive – higher material standards of living, significant improvements in health and education, weakening of traditional (often conservative) values. However, there were also a lot of negative changes – repression of workers, spread of urban slums, and increasing social conflicts. So, I wanted to understand both the positive and the negative changes that were happening around me and economics seemed to be the obvious subject to help me do that.
Even today, it is my desire to understand – and hopefully improve – the real world around me that keeps me going. Even though I don’t have any problem with other researchers doing ‘esoteric’ theoretical research (which I myself sometimes do), I am mainly driven by the desire to analyse real-world problems and come up with practical policy solutions to them.
Economics is everywhere, but its understanding varies widely. Growing up in Seoul to graduating and teaching in the UK, what would you say is the fundamental difference between the two countries when it comes to the World of Economics?
When I decided that I want to do my graduate studies in the UK, it was because I thought the UK economics departments offered a more ‘pluralist’ intellectual environment than what I could find in Korea or the US (the other obvious destination) at the time.
When I was attending my university in Seoul in the early 1980s, we were mostly taught Neoclassical economics and some Neoclassical rendition of Keynesian economics. Marxist economics was officially banned and we had only glimpses of other economic schools, like the Schumpeterian school and the German historical school through a couple of old professors. Most UK universities seemed to offer much broader curriculum.
When I actually arrived in Cambridge as a graduate student in 1986, not only was I given broader, more pluralist teaching than I had had in Korea, but I was also encouraged (or even forced) take a far more critical approach to economics than I was used to. In Korea at the time (as it is sadly the case in the UK too these days), we were told to absorb our textbooks and lectures uncritically, but my teachers in Cambridge – Robert Rowthorn, Ajit Singh, John Sender, Gabriel Palma, and Peter Nolan were particularly influential – taught us economics mainly through debates between different schools, thus implying that it is not always black-and-white. They also encouraged us to be critical of intellectual authorities, pushing us to question even the most widely accepted theories and the most famous economists.
What exactly inspires you?
Two hundred years ago, if you advocated the abolition of slavery in the US, the kindest description you would have got is ‘unrealistic’. One hundred years ago, the UK, the US, and many other countries put women in prison for asking for vote. Sixty, seventy years ago, many of the founding fathers (and mothers) of post-colonial societies were being hunted down as terrorists by the British, the French, the Belgians, the Japanese, and so on. Only three decades ago, Margaret Thatcher is supposed to have said that anyone who thinks there will be a black majority rule in South Africa is living in a cloud cuckoo land. But all of these things, which once had looked impossible, have come true because people fought to achieve them.
I am of course only an academic and a writer, so the fight I am fighting is nothing even remotely comparable to all those who risked their lives in the fight for the abolition of slavery, male-only voting system, colonialism, apartheid, and so on. However, those people and many others who have fought to make the world better are the ones that inspire me.
From your point of view, what is the biggest challenge facing the world today?
In the short to medium run, the biggest challenge that the world is facing today is the heightened (and in many countries increasing) inequality, which has mainly been caused by the neo-liberal economic policies of the last few decades.
High inequality holds the economy back – by depressing demand and, more importantly, by reducing social mobility, thus failing to fully utilise the talents that a society has in possession. High inequality, especially if it is rapidly increasing, makes society more conflict-ridden and intolerant. In many countries, it is tearing societies apart.
In the longer run, the biggest challenge to the world is of course climate change. Unless we change our energy system and consumption pattern significantly and quickly enough, we may ‘run out of the planet’, so to speak. Catastrophic climate change will make all other socio-economic problems – fiscal austerity, job insecurity, high inequality, strains on the welfare state – look like a picnic.
Of course, one important plank in our strategy to deal with climate change should be to put more restraints on the untrammelled pursuit of short-term profits by the neo-liberal economic system, which has encouraged excessive material consumption and the neglect of long-term damages to the environment.
Your book ‘23 things they don’t tell you about Capitalism’, gives a very refreshing and understandable approach to the running of Economies. Professor Noam Chomsky quotes, ‘The basic principle of modern state capitalism is that costs and risks are socialized to the extent possible, while profit is privatized.’ Can you comment on this, in terms of those who tend to gain the most and least welfare from such a system?
Professor Chomsky is absolutely right, but things are actually worse than what he says. The first part of the principle (that is, the socialisation of costs and risks) is applied only to the rich, while the second part of the principle (privatisation of profit) is inherently applicable mostly to the rich (as the poor earn little, if any, profit).
The principle of socialisation of risk for the rich has been most dramatically shown by the 2008 global financial crisis. Following the crisis, banks have been bailed out by taxpayers’ money to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars but few top bankers who had caused (or at least had condoned the practices that caused) the crisis have been punished for their wrong-doings and their dereliction of duty.
Even before the crisis, for the rich, the last few decades have been a game of ‘head I win, tail you lose’. Especially in the US, top managers, sign on pay packages that give them tens, and often hundreds, of millions of dollars for failing – and many times more for doing a decent job. Corporations have been subsidised on a massive scale with few conditions – sometimes directly but often indirectly through government procurement programmes with inflated price tags (especially in defence) or through free technologies produced by government-funded research programmes.
In contrast, poor people have been increasingly subject to market forces and bearing more and more risk than before. Jobs have become far more insecure, thanks to continuous de-regulation of the labour market and sometimes even to laws weakening the trade union. This trend has reached a new level with the emergence of the so-called ‘gig economy’, in which workers are bogusly hired as ‘self-employed’ (without the control over their work that the truly self-employed people have) and deprived of even the most basic rights (e.g., sick leave, paid holiday). In the area of consumption, increasing privatisation and deregulation of industries supplying essential services, on which the poor are relatively more reliant upon (like water, electricity, public transport, postal services, basic health care, and basic education), have meant that the poor have been seen a disproportionate increase in the exposure of their consumption (and not just jobs) to the risks inherent in the logic of the market.
If you had one message to give to all young and aspiring economists, what would it be?
I would say: “Never accept anything at face value”.
If they are not going to end up as technocratic ‘worker bees’ who execute orders given to them by their employers or, worse, unthinkingly defend the economic status quo, economists need to question the prevailing economic theories. I am not saying that you should abandon all theories but that you should check what the underlying assumptions of the theory in question are, whether those assumptions are ethically acceptable and descriptively realistic, and whether those assumptions hold in the cases to which you are applying the theory.
You should also question the numbers that you are dealing with. Even for more ‘straightforward’ numbers, like GDP, you need to know that there are a lot of problems: for example, GDP includes incomes from socially undesirable activities (e.g., polluting activities), excludes household work and care work (mostly done by women), and so on. When it comes to all those ‘indexes’ (of freedom, corruption, governance, ethnic homogeneity, and what not), you don’t even know exactly what went into them and how the ideological biases that are inherent in them (e.g., the very notion of things like freedom and ethnicity) need to be taken into account.
To find out more about Ha-Joon Chang and his work check out his website hajoonchang.net for more information on his publications, influences and interests.
Based in Berlin and with a workforce of just 18 dedicated individuals, Ecosia is an alternative search engine available to web browsers worldwide. It works just like other search engines in that revenue is generated from ads, however it’s unique in that at least 80% of their profits are invested into reforestation projects.
Trees are vital to our survival – they absorb CO2, which is one of the main drivers of climate change. Ecosia users are responsible for the plantation of over 6 million trees since the company’s advent and have the ambitious target of planting one billion trees by 2020!
How did the idea to link web surfing and tree planting come about?
Whilst travelling through South America, Christian Kroll, Ecosia’s founder, was learning a lot about reforestation projects in the Atlantic Rainforest in Argentina and Brazil and also read Thomas L. Friedman’s book “Hot, Flat and Crowded”. It taught him a lot about the connection between globalisation and climate change and how planting new trees could actually neutralize CO2 emissions on a big scale. This is when Christian realised he wanted to engage in forest preservation to help the environment. He came up with the idea of a search engine that helped finance planting and restoration projects after realising just how much money the search industry was worth and the potential that a social business model could have in creating a sustainable source of revenue for tree planting.
Out of all the social issues, why did you choose reforestation as the cause to invest in?
The benefit of planting trees is not only huge for the environment, but also for people. Trees can re-start water cycles, protect coastlines from erosion, restore soil fertility and provide the backbone of countless ecosystems. By restoring forests and educating people on the many benefits that they provide, we can create long term, sustainable solutions to many important issues on a local level, as well as turning the tide of deforestation on a global scale.
Where in the world are you currently working and how do you decide where would be best to invest your resources?
We only plant trees in places where there have historically been trees, and where it makes sense for people and for nature. We focus on finding projects working in the planet’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots. Right now we are funding projects in Madagascar, Peru, Burkina Faso and Indonesia. In this document our wonderful Tree Planting Officer, Pieter, explains more about how, where and why we plant trees.
What tangible impact have you seen Ecosia have that you are most proud of?
On our trip to the planting sites and communities we work with in Burkina Faso, we met Sawadogo who is the representative of the women in Gongho. She underlined the benefits that trees bring. She told us how she teaches children the importance of trees by taking them by the hand to sit under the shade of the tree, so that they can feel the cool shade. She also explained how the trees provide women with a way to earn a living of their own which allows them to continue thinking strategically about how to further improve their village. She underlined very much that before the tree planting programmes, they didn’t know about the long term benefits of trees and they would be chopped down to be used for firewood. Nowadays they are much more careful, she assured, still using certain branches of the tree but in a way that it won’t harm the tree.
Finally, what advice would you give to other social entrepreneurs who have ideas that might seem too obscure, challenging or overambitious?
All the best solutions are often obscure and challenging, keep your raison d’être at the very core of your enterprise and do not give up!
Head over to ecosia.org to find out more, and click here to add Ecosia onto your browser… So every time you search the web you will be helping the planet and its ecosystems!
The last four years of my life have been a really weird, painful blur but I wouldn’t edit them in any way if I had the opportunity. Dare I say, I am glad they happened. It started in the final year of my A-Levels. My cousin, who had suffered from bipolar depression for many years, took her own life seemingly out of the blue. This shook me up significantly more than I realised at the time. I was on track to get straight A*s and study law at the university of my dreams; I couldn’t have been more excited for the next chapter of my life. Her death steered me off course for my A-Levels, I messed them up and ended up depressed and alone in a university I didn’t want to be at, studying a course I hated.
The solution was simple: go study psychology at Durham University and one day become a clinician so as to “fix” or “save” other young people like my cousin. Alas, that solution was flawed. In my first two years at Durham, I probably skipped at least a third of my lectures because I was physically unable to leave my bed and endure another day of feigning happiness and “normality”. I managed to successfully play it down by adopting the classic “lazy student” persona so no one thought it strange. It’s a curious contradiction because I did not necessarily want to die but I definitely did not want to be alive.
Simultaneously and somewhat ironically, I was pouring all my time and what little energy I did have into campaigning for ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and encouraging people to engage in dialogue on the matter. I was so invested and seemingly credible to the point where a member of staff asked me to represent Durham University, at a three-day conference in Brussels that was addressing the youth mental health crisis in Europe. I was the youngest and least accomplished person there, yet my passion alone had landed me in a room full of distinguished academics. A wonderful illustration of high-functioning depression. Yes, on some days I was the classic head-clutching, weeping mess traditionally depicted as depressed but more often than not I was sat amongst my peers in lectures, just muddling through life like any other student. I describe my cousin’s suicide as “seemingly out of the blue” because I have now realised what depression doesn’t look like.
As it turns out, 16 days at summer camp in a tiny Polish town is all I needed to address and undo four years of accumulated pain. The combination of being completely immersed in nature and being with group of Christians amongst whom vulnerability was not only embraced but encouraged, was exactly what I needed at the exact time that I needed it. A few days into the trip someone asked me, “Natalie, are you ever not happy?” and that’s when I knew that the dark cloud that had loomed over me for four years had left. That question took me by surprise and actually made me laugh out loud because anyone who’d met me up until that point probably had a burning desire to ask if I was ever happy. I had rediscovered joy and hope. The source of which are my faith in Jesus Christ and my identity in Him.Having people available around the clock who intently listened to years of bottled up rants and affirmed that I was not defined by depression is what lifted me out of the dark hole I had been gradually sinking into.
It’s a terrible cliché but I wholeheartedly believe that every season is for a reason. My summer camp was organised by the Navigators, a Christian society I was involved with and heavily invested in while at my first university. Had I not ended up there in 2013 (and subsequently remained a long-distance member), I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t have had thelife changing summer I did.
I’m still working through stuff and am in no way qualified to dish out advice on what the “correct” way to handle depression is. However, I would encourage people not to allow the automated “yeah I’m good thanks, how are you?” response to govern your everyday conversations. Ultimately, the weightlessness that follows releasing that burden from your shoulders far outweighs the awkwardness of initiating that conversation. I can’t stress the value of authentic relationships enough.
When it comes to Asian fashion, BIBI London are at the top of their game. They showcase the most sought after designers from Sabyasachi to Shyamal & Bhumika in their stunning boutique located in Essex. By shopping at BIBI London you are now able to access the same clothing and designers as leading Bollywood ladies such as Aishwarya Rai, Shilpa Shetty and Priyanka Chopra just to name but a few!
Not only offering a place to shop around, they offer an entire experience, whether you are after bridalwear or formalwear. The fashion house is constantly gracing the pages of Asiana and all of the couture catwalks.
We managed to catch the founder, Marni Kaur, for a quick chat. So take a read to get an exclusive insight into the world of BIBI London…
Coming from a family who loved their fashion and style, the idea of starting your own business came about because of your own interest in the industry as well as being able to see the gap in the UK market. Can you remember how the inital idea came about?
Yes I can remember! I had been shopping somewhere and I wanted to buy a designer piece. The place I visited had very limited choice and they were so rude and snobby I thought to myself… there must be lots of people just like me who want to buy something nice and have fun doing it. So I started to put together my initial plan.
What about the name BIBI London ?
It had to be universal and ‘BIBI’ meant woman in all Asian languages.
Seeing how successful BIBI London has become today, clearly a lot of work, time and effort has gone into building the brand. But what makes BIBI London stand out from other Asian couture brands in the UK and Europe?
The brand is known for its customer service as well as great products. I feel that we should be creating an experience, so when a client comes to us they have fun, feel great and go away with something that makes them feel amazing.
I still serve a client the way I would want to be served. It’s important to me to make someone go away and recommend us, and it shouldn’t matter if that person buys from us or not – as long as they enjoyed BIBI london I have achieved my goal.
What would you say is the secret is to your success?
I think my secret is the sheer passion for what I do, I love my heritage, I love Indian fashion, and I love people. I feel when I am finding a piece for someone I do it with all of that in my heart and mind, and a client can see that.
Simply putting a smile on someone’s face be it a bride, the mother of a bride or a girl who is going to an event and wants to feel her best – it’s very touching.
Which type clients do you enjoy styling the most and why?
That’s difficult! It depends on the time of year. We have lots of brides September to March, and we spend time with these girls and their families and it’s an honour that they have chosen us to be a part of their day. When we deliver their piece and you know that you won’t see them for a while it’s a little sad, as you have been through such a special time with them. So I love doing bridals for that reason.
When we do partywear or formal I can have fun be creative and experiment it’s a different experience upbeat and full of laughter and an outfit and jewellery can transform a person and give them so much confidence!
It’s just so so satisfying when you know a girl is going to turn heads!!
Having an idea of where fashion is heading and what the current trends are is very important. For a brand to be popular, upcoming trends need to be foreseen. How easy is it for you to keep up with these and use them to your advantage?
This information is so accessible to all now but it’s also about listening to customers understanding what our clients buy and want as what’s in fashion may not always be what a person would want to wear.
So at times I work with our colleagues and tweak and change things to bring fashion to everyday people.
Having recently become a mother, do you still have the same passion for you work?
Yes for sure! I really do. I am obsessed with Bibi London, and I think if that ever changed then the brand would loose its heart.
It takes more than just clothes. It’s about the people we serve and creating magic with them.
What vision do you have for BIBI London now?
BIBI London now has a sister brand Heritage Jewels and in the future we will be launching BIBI man and BIBI kids.
We will always continue to thrive to be a fun environment where we sell amazing couture!
What advice could you give to young girls who want to start up their own business?
Do your research, and make sure that your idea is a viable one. Ask friends and family…And if you don’t go out and try it, someone else will!
And finally, if you could have an ambassador or face of the brand, who would you like that to be ideally?
That’s a difficult question as I feel one woman doesn’t represent us all. So I had to pick 3!
Firstly, Deepika Padacone, stunningly beautiful and so fashionable. Number two, Rekha because she encompasses everything a strong Indian woman should be, she shows a strength of character that is rare in our culture. And lastly, Shamila Tagore – as a child I was always mesmerised by her beauty and I still am.
To find our more visit bibilondon.com or keep up with their latest collections by following @bibildn on Twitter and Instagram!
When I was 5 year of age, I was unconsciously made aware of a state of being that is inside of us all. In this state, everything is effortless. There is no winning or losing, there is no right or wrong, these things don’t matter, because they don’t even come to mind. I was completely merged with the actions of whatever I was doing, losing track of time, yet so deeply focused on what I was doing. I had no inner critic pressing this opinion towards my attention. My whole being pulsed in unity with the environment of what I was doing. But of course, in that moment, none of these words came to mind. These only became visible on reflection.
There was this deep connection to this state which I thought that everyone was aware of. To me, it was as clear as day. But it was only when I “fell asleep” that I knew that not everyone had this connection, this awareness of this state of being.
Secondary School was tricky to say the least. I couldn’t figure out how people could study for 20mins and be able to remember it all. I couldn’t read at the speed of my neighbors. And the more I tried to fit in with all of this, the further I got from that state of being. I quickly learnt, that I didn’t learn the way school was teaching me and that I didn’t learn like everyone else.
For me everything has a feeling. The feeling of understanding has a sense of calmness, lightness, but yet a disciplinary focus to it. Not understanding has a sense of heaviness, frustration, and blurriness. I find myself trying to express with this distant language of words. But yet, to understand what I’m saying you must look past this babel.
Reciting words spoken from someone else wasn’t a way of learning for me, I had to connect to what sits behind the words in order to tune into it and allow my own words to surface. This is how I learnt to learn.
I do this by connecting to the feeling, the sense, and the energy of the lesson to be learnt. I feel my way into the flow of the task.
Throughout my life I ´ve been drawn towards physical challenges that the purpose was not to challenge someone else. I did them to challenge myself to remain In the Flow. I trained to be a Stunt Performer, Martial Artist and fought in the MMA, all with inner battles of how to remain in Flow during extreme pressure. Many painful physical, mental and emotional lessons were learnt on this way to find Flow.
I now teach anyone who has the hunger to excel in their field of excellence. Whether this is a sport, a skill or a profession, it doesn’t matter because the aim is the same, to achieve your optimal level of performance. I teach this by hacking you into this state, and then to train in it. The more familiar you are with this optimal state, the easier and more accessible it is.
This State is Called The Flow State and I can show you how to hack into it whenever you want.
With almost reaching a following base of 1.5 million, the well known Instagram account Secrets2Success are definitely doing what their name intended! By providing daily inspiration and motivation to its reader, they continue to fuel the minds of many including P.Diddy, LL Cool J, Tai Lopez, and 2 Chains being a few of the names who like and share S2S content.
A few years ago, Taif Haidar was a typical student studying at college whilst working at his uncle’s liquor store. Focusing on his exams as his mum wished, meant getting fired from his uncles shop! But he used this opportunity to invest in himself and used this time to create a business all from his phone.
Recently launching their first e-book on how they gained 1 million followers and earned $100,000, ’17 Secrets 2 Instagram Success’ is now available to download and lets you in on some tips and tricks in making the most out of your Instagram account.
Taif Haidar, aged 25, the founder and owner of Secret2Success, gives us some answers into why he started the concept, his own thoughts on success, and his vision for the future of the Brand.
Where did the idea of inspiring others come from?
From not being happy with where I was in my life, and realising more and more that finishing college will not necessary give me the lifestyle and freedom that I want.
Studying international business, and knowing that college was not the path for you. What was the one thing you learnt from the whole college experience?
I learned that college is important, if you choose the right study…
Your first eBook, 17 Secrets 2 Instagram success, is now available and gives an insight into how S2S grew to 1 million followers and earned over $100,000. When starting S2S, was there an inkling that it would one day become this successful?
When starting S2S I made one promise to my self, to make this a huge success otherwise the name it self “Secrets2Success” wouldn’t make sense. But I wasn’t really ever imaging to get to over 1 million followers ever!
What would you say is the most important secret to success?
Persistence, and loving/liking what you do.
Clearly, social media and the internet has allowed us to explore new realms that were previously non-existent. What are your thoughts on the power of the online world and it’s impact?
The online world opened a lot of opportunities for a lot of people with talents and dreams. I personally believe it’s one of the greatest phenomena of this generation.
When creating the content and posts, where does the inspiration behind these come from?
I allow myself to be inspired by a lot of different content, through different channels, when inspired, I pick the content that personally inspires me the most and share that.
How did it feel when you had only 25k followers and P.Diddy started following you?
Very exciting of course! It was one of those moments that I jumped out of happiness to tell my family, and I still can remember that moment like it was yesterday! Because I was just 6 months in the game, and now someone as big as him, #1 HipHop earner today, following me, made me realize how small the world really is.
S2S was created over two years ago and continues to grow. But were there any challenges faced along the way?
Yes, I would lie if I would say there weren’t any. And we still see challenges ahead, like what is the best way to inspire people, and how to expand next?
If you had one message to give to the world, what would it be?
Invest in yourself. Educate yourself. And have an open mind towards new things.
And finally, what would you like to see in the next 5 years in terms of the future of S2S?
When someone is mentioning motivation or inspiration, S2S should pop up in there head as the top brand.
To find out more and to download their insightful e-book, visit secrets2success.co. And to feed your thoughts with daily inspiration follow @secrets2success on Instagram!
I’ve always been the type of person that puts everyone before myself. I’d try and do as much as I could in order to help others – even if it’s just to put a smile on them. But as I’ve always done this, I’ve had to let myself go. I never really put that energy into me. I didn’t even feel as if I needed to.
Growing up, I was always in and out of anger management classes throughout school and the start of college. In my final year of university I went through some major losses and got forced back into these classes, by family members and friends because they all felt as if I needed it, due to the way I starting acting and reacting to situations. I stuck with it for about 5-6 weeks, but I knew I didn’t need to be there and found that it wasn’t for me.
The real change in me came when I decided to leave these anger management classes and start focusing on my own development. I started reading books and articles on topics I thought may be relevant, such as ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’, ‘Self-Confidence’ and ‘The Power of your Subconscious Mind’. And I even started training again. Taking full control and focusing on my own self-development was the best investment I’ve ever made. Now that I’ve started my journey of self-development, I know the journey will never end, but for sure it will be the best journey I’ll ever travel.
Going through the mental struggle of losing my best friend and having to start anger management again destroyed my self-esteem and level of confidence. I wasn’t happy at all. But I gained the knowledge that I needed and most importantly I was implementing and executing on the knowledge that I was gaining. I started to understand the power of my thoughts, and the effect these thoughts and internal conversations had on me. Once I understood that, my journey began! I started to become more aware of the thoughts I was having, and as soon as I had a negative thought I’d distract myself with something else or simply just think about something or someone that made me happy.
The best way anyone can overcome self-confidence issues and increase their level of confidence, is understanding that you don’t need to seek validation from no one. You need to accept who you are. All your flaws and all your insecurities. Once you accept that, it is your flaws and insecurities that makes you beautiful and is what makes you, you, you’ll start to become content with yourself and you’ll start heading in the right direction. I honestly believe that self-rejection is one of the biggest confidence killers. You’ll always find or come across people that don’t like you, or talk negatively about you. So you don’t need to do it to yourself.
My vision with my youtube channel was basically to share my journey to success. All over youtube, you’ll find channels to do with entrepreneurship and setting up your own business, but these channels are set up by entrepreneurs that are already successful, running multi million pound/dollar companies eg Gary Vaynerchuck, Tai Lopez etc.. I’m doing the exact opposite. I’m trying to show people that I’m just a regular guy, that has nothing but a vision and a goal of where I want to be. So me starting youtube was more like, let me tell you guys what I want to do and be… now ‘Watch me do it!’ Because I will do it and I will get there. And by me sharing my journey and the process I’m going through to get there, if that inspires or helps someone, that’ll be amazing.
I wanted to be as honest as possible when sharing my journey, so that’s why I mentioned me starting this is completely out of my comfort zone and that I’ve had issues with self-confidence – because I’m no longer ashamed of it! But I’ve got to admit, it was scary posting my first video, because once it was posted, I knew there was no going back, and I’d have to stick with it, so I just posted it as quick as possible. I knew it’ll all lead to me growing as an individual and will help me get to where I want to be, mentally. Plus, if it happens to help or inspire someone on the way, it’s a bonus, a win win situation.
For me I think my motivation comes from my life experience and everyone around me. What keeps me driven is my parents. Growing up we’ve never really had much, but my parents always made sure we had enough. I’ve seen my parents struggle their entire life, migrating from India to the UK, leaving their whole families behind, to build a better life for us, as their children. Now that I’m in older, it’s my turn to pay it all back and more and I will for sure, it’s just a matter of time. I’ve promised my parents that the struggle won’t last forever and I don’t break promises! That’s what motivates me, and gives me the drive to take chances, risks and step out my comfort zone. Also, I’m having fun with it all, I’m working on a venture that’s combined all my passions into one business. So even though, it can get overwhelming at times, it’s easy for me, because it doesn’t feel like work.
But to wrap it all up, to anyone that has a vision or a goal that they want to achieve, there’s nothing to it, but to do it. Understand that you are the only person that can make your visions manifest. You will struggle, and you must step out your comfort zone to do it. But once you do, you’ll start noticing a huge change within you, and everything that you are trying to obtain, will start falling into place. Have full belief and faith in the process but most importantly embrace and enjoy it all.
To keep up with Kam’s journey, click here to subscribe to his YouTube Channel and follow him on Instagram @kamsinghvirk to find out more!
Dedicated to delivering the truth about cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs, STEM are an independent organisation, whose mission is to challenge the widely accepted stigma and misinformation around the subject.
The idea began with 2 childhood friends, who after much research into cannabis, its regulations and its history, came to fully understand how it became an illicit drug, and what motivates many governments into sustaining this prohibition. Being inspired by this newfound knowledge, they have created a brand that aims to share this information and awareness.
We got in touch with one of STEM’s founders to find out more about their work, and here is their insightful message…
‘We dream of a world without prohibition’ is the vision behind STEM. But where did the name ‘STEM’ come from and what does it stand for?
We decided to use the name STEM as we wanted to outline the fact that, in today’s society, the way we treat drug policies, is a problem. Therefore it seemed appropriate that we are focusing on where this issue has stemmed from, and so the name was born. It just so happens that the STEM of a plant is also the part that transports nutrients from the soil into the flowering parts; this seems suitable as we too are trying to deliver valuable nutrients in the form of information and enlightenment, to the public.
STEM was founded by 2 childhood friends who had a social, casual relationship with cannabis. After much research over the years, and now creating a Brand which aims to spread this knowledge and awareness, what is the most interesting thing you learnt about cannabis (something you may not have realised before)?
We have learnt so much about cannabis during our research you wouldn’t believe. It’s funny, we always discuss the fact that as children we were told all these scary myths and ghost stories about the dangers of cannabis, and we never questioned them. We still used cannabis as we were at the age where; your health comes second to having a good time. But to grow up, access the Internet’s wealth of knowledge, and find out the truth that cannabis is not the evil poisonous substance it was made out to be, was an incredible revelation for both of us. Apart from the general realisation that cannabis isn’t as harmful as they say, the existence of the endocannabinoid system in the body that has receptors specifically made to interact with THC, is a pretty incredible fact I learnt.
Do you think the drug is banned in the UK solely due to capitalist ideology and for monetary advantages? Or do you think that there is an element of social welfare attached to the reasoning behind its ban?
In the UK it seems to be less to do with capitalism and more to do with the stigma attached to cannabis, which has been so stubborn. In the USA, capitalism has a hold on every aspect of life, including the prison systems and pharmaceutical industry. This is the perfect environment for cannabis laws to thrive as there are so many rich corporations with so much to gain from keeping cannabis use, distribution and possession, a punishable offence. In the UK however our public sector has a larger part to play in these areas, so capitalism is not interfering as much. The harsh stigma around cannabis use is a side effect of years or propaganda fuelling ‘The war on drugs’. This has been a huge influencer in society’s wider opinion of cannabis, this being the case, no political party in the UK would risk that level of unpopularity when in power to stand up and do what is right. But there are many other social and economic factors involved when assessing the way the UK structure their laws, sadly, none of the drug laws seem to take into account scientific evidence and mortality rates as factor.
Cannabis has been a topic of discussion in terms of legalisation and decriminalisation. What are your thoughts on each of the matters and what do you think might be the best solution?
I believe that decriminalization should not be the end goal, legalisation should. Under decriminalisation, fines and civil penalties will still be dealt out for doing something I believe should carry no penalty what so ever. That being said; in the current political climate I see no legalization without decriminalisation, in many countries. So it may just be a route we have to take. I think many politicians are realising they cannot keep up the facade for much longer, not with the Internet exposing all the myths about cannabis. So we will look towards a route that is easiest for us to explain the decades of lies behind us.
What do you think is one of the most misunderstood beliefs/ideas about cannabis, that society faces?
There are too many issues to name. I think the biggest problem with the cause at the minute is how seriously it is taken. People brush legalization off and say things like “why do you want to get high so badly?” well firstly the cause is not in aid of recreational use only, people are suffering and even dying as a cause of cannabis prohibition. Over 75,000 people have died in the drug war in Mexico; thousands more die from overdose deaths in America from prescribed pharmaceuticals that could be substituted with cannabis. Many thousands more rot away in prisons serving harsh sentences for possessing what is essentially a plant that has never directly cause a single human fatality. Once we can all agree the world is a much better place without cannabis prohibition, we can move on. The American states that have legalised in 2016 will show the rest of the world, that society does not collapse into mayhem when people are freely given the choice to consume cannabis.
What future plans and ideas do you guys have for the Brand?
At the minute, we are just trying to focus on building a bigger following on social media and getting people involved in our content. Big things are happening in the world of cannabis, and we are hoping to involve ourselves in this as much as possible. In the near future we are hoping to get ourselves to a few cannabis-based events around the UK and start up a conversation with some like-minded people.
To find out more visit stem-online.org or follow @stem_online on Instagram for some interesting posts!
Winning the accolade of 2015 Facebook app of the year, Whichit is a highly engaging interactive editorial content format. From a consumers’ perspective Whichit is an addictive poll tool that lets them ask and answer image-based questions and rewards them with real time feedback and promotions. For Brands, Whichit will be the leading interactive content publishing tool in the field of native advertising.
Take a read to find out more about the driven team behind the Brand as well as hearing from the CEO and Founder, Jonathan Gan himself…
What is the story behind Whichit?
My wife used to constantly ask me “which” questions; which restaurant would you like to go to? Which movie would you like to see? Ect… One day I told her: ‘I’ll build you an App for those questions, just stop sending me those questions by email or IM during work…”
When daydreaming, I always have idea. Every time I thought I had a good idea I would pitch it one of my mentors or friends. And the Whichit idea caught on instantly!
After that initial brainstorming meeting, it took just 3 months for me to build the initial plans to full execution, making sure the idea was valid for the long run. The vision and concept, the product and definitions, market research, business and financial plans, marketing, strategy and tactics, risk management and emergency plans, HR and skills. Once I saw and checked all the plans were valid and could hold in the long run, I started to execute.
With social media and the internet allowing us to explore new realms which were previously non-existent. What are your thoughts on the power of the online world and it’s impact?
I think we gave only just started to experience the online world. As amazing as Google search is, as as much as the social media and networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are overwhelming, I think we haven’t even got started. Those Sci-fi movies are slowly becoming our reality.
The question is…are we going to end up in one of the post-apocalyptic scenarios, or as Star Trek – when of humankind are united.
Being a former Israeli Air Force Major, with military and leadership experience. How have these qualities aided you in getting to where you are now?
The Army provides you with a lot of experience, management skills, motivating people, self-discipline, order and organisation. All of this working under conditions of stress and short deadlines.
But main skill is the ability to operate under conditions of uncertainty, when you don’t have all the data and information about the situation, that experience is the basis in very entrepreneur’s life.
During you time in University, you were involved in several large scale technology modernisation and innovative projects. This must have given you a valuable insight into the world of innovation and technology. But what was the most important lesson learnt at your time in university?
Indeed, I have a BSc and also MBA in Management of Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Tel-Aviv University. Those two degrees, and in general my time at school, is the time for the individual to get his/her ‘tool box.’
The more one studies, the bigger and more sophisticated the tool box will become. Yet, the ability to use this ‘tool box’ depends on the person. One can have a rich tool box but do nothing with it, while another can have a few tools but has the drive and the power to build amazing things with it. School is just the ‘tool box’, the rest is up to you.
‘Team work makes the dream work’, is a fundamental quality for Whichit. What is it about the Whichit Team that particularly makes the company thrive?
Each one of the Whichit team is a highly professional in his or her domain, with strong knowledge and experience. But the ability of the individual to work as a team, synchronised and coordinated, at the professional level as well as a personal level, gives the added value for us as a team.
Finally, what advice could you give to young students who are aiming to one day create their own startups?
The idea is less important, there are plenty of good ideas. It’s all about the execution! The ability to take an idea to full operation. Those capabilities and skills are not based just on tech knowledge, but on the operation and management side. I’ll recommend to those who want to have their own start up one day – acquire skills and knowledge in project management, product management, risk management, business planning, strategy and tactics in business, operations and administration, HR, employe motivation, basic psychology and read a lot of case studies on companies!
The emergence of grime music began in the 2000s, developing from UK garage and originating from East London with the likes of Skepta, Wiley, Kano, Dizzle Rascal, and many others.
Today, with different styles and sounds, grime is upcoming throughout the country and is being recognised mainstream as well as continuing to build its huge underground audience.
A young artist from North West London, Clich-A, is appearing into the scene and aims push the gap in the industry when it comes to Asian artists. And here he is, to talk more about his experience with music and why he makes it…
“I was always interested in rap music, it was more American Hip-Hop/Rap at first. But it was around age of 10, was when I was started getting into grime. My friends brother had a home studio (stereo with a mic connected with audacity) and this is where we would hang out, listening to music and try rapping. At first, I would just be free-styling with mates.
I then met Sangeet (who is now my engineer) and decided to put together a couple of tunes with music videos that we could post out there. We just wanted to see what response would be… but we realised that people were actually feeling it!
I’m want to show that music is colourless and be as real as I can in my music, I feel that the youth today are mislead and care too much about social status and I think music affects that a lot. People see rappers and sportsman wearing £1000 shoes and then feel like they need the same. I can understand where they are coming from, and it’s fair enough as it’s inspiration. But when they get involved with the other side of the law for the purpose of buying designer, it’s not right. Instead they could be saving for a business, or using their potential to create something.
When it comes to my inspiration in terms of music, I couldn’t pin point a particular artist as I get inspired everyday by different artists. But Stormzy is a big inspiration for me. I was a fan from early and saw how he progressed to the level of success that he is at now -without changing.
I feel my lyrics are relatable and that’s what I like; I’m just a normal guy using music as expression in a way people can understand. I’ve been writing loads just trying to find my sound, and in 2017 I’m aiming to be more consistent with releases and have a project ready to release. I’m still young, and I don’t really know what exactly I want to do for the rest of my life but all I know it’ll definitely be different. I’d like to have my hands in many different pies!”
To find out more about his music, follow him on Instagram and Twitter @clich_a and click here to check out his SoundCloud!
Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, Sister Jayanti, truly represents the essence of inner peace and meditation. She is someone who believes in the power of consciousness and thought to positively influence the world around her. Having found and developed her own path of spirituality through meditation, she has been practicing for over 40 years.
Being invited to speak at several UN Climate Change Conferences, her commitment in helping to combat further Climate Change continues, as she reflects on the importance of inner silence to spark change within individuals…
“Our curiosity for knowledge is important, but what is more important is our understanding to piece it all together.” – Amerah Ahmed.
At the age 18, living in London, you began to recognise the possible directions of your life. Do you remember how you began to piece together the knowledge that has brought you onto this path of spirituality? And when growing up, did you have a sense of there being something bigger than yourself?
As a child, I came into contact with the Brahma Kumaris, because my mother and grandmother started to meditate at the centre in Pune in India in 1957. There was a feeling of warmth and safety being with the sisters. We then migrated to London a few months later. Through my teens I would visit India but I was never really interested to find out more. I was told there was a God but traditional religions didn’t really answer my questions about God, and so for a period of time I felt I didn’t need to explore that dimension. Again, meeting the Brahma Kumaris and the Founder, Brahma Baba, was an uplifting experience but I didn’t have the curiosity to actually study the teachings.
In November 1967, sitting at the back of a lecture theatre at the University of London, I remember watching the professor write chemical formulae on the board. I had this strange out of body experience, in which I was looking down from somewhere up above and I was asking myself the question: what am I doing here? I shook my head and jerked myself back to the physical awareness of my surroundings and told myself not to be silly.
In December I went back to India, having decided to spend time in India getting to know my roots. The crisis I was facing was one of choice: the traditional Eastern path, the traditional Western path and a very new, Western, modern path that was just beginning – the permissive society. None of them felt comfortable. After some months in India, I felt I needed to educate myself and start using my mind and intellect again, and so I went to the centre in Pune, where my grandmother lived, and a woman yogi called Dadi Janki opened the door. She had been seeing me since childhood and welcomed me in. She wanted to know if I had something to ask, something to say or if I wanted to hear her. I indicated that I had come to listen and she spoke about conscience and how conscience has become clouded with many influences – society, media, education, friends, etc. I felt she was describing my situation and I asked: “How can one clear this?” Her reply was: “Meditation”. I began lessons immediately, understanding the self, understanding the Divine – and meditation became a very powerful experience immediately. The rest of the teachings were not immediately so easy to grasp but the early experiences of meditation were evidence for me that I was on the right track and that I would be able to understand more as I moved along.
When you first joined the Bramah Kumaris, did you ever question yourself, where or not this was the correct path for you? And ultimately why did you choose this particular path of meditation and spirituality?
All the questions that I had about the self and God and the meaning of life were being answered through the teachings. More importantly, the meditation experiences continued to deepen and within six weeks I had decided that this was to be my life. A few months later I actually went to live in one of the ‘ashrams’ (meditation centres) of the Brahma Kumaris in India. It was this dual experience of the clarity of the teachings and the validation of the things I was hearing through meditation that made me feel that this was the right path for me. What made me question whether I was on the right path was not so much the teachings or the meditation, but very often through my journey I would find myself facing deep patterns of behaviour that were counter-productive to the path of peace, truth and love, and I wondered whether I would be able to stick to it. However, the experience of God’s love and the blessings that one receives through serving others once again gave me the courage and motivation to continue the journey. I was also very fortunate to have constant guidance from Dadi Janki, who by that time was living in London. Today Dadi is 101 and lives in India and continues to serve as the Head of the Brahma Kumaris.
From your perspective, how have you seen the world change from when you first started your spiritual journey to the present day?
There seem to be two opposing forces that are functioning in the world. One is the descending energy and the other is the ascending energy. In terms of the descending energy, it seems as if the decline in the world has been intense and rapid. There wasn’t so much of a drugs scene, when I returned from India in 1969 and started to teach meditation in London. The loss of adherence to family values – or even moral values, the growth of violence, terrorism and corruption, are all part of the world scenario today. The world wasn’t such a dangerous place to live in as it is today. There also seems to have been a loss of compassion and basic human kindness in many situations now. However, since 1969 and the opening of the first Brahma Kumaris centre outside India in London, I have also witnessed the Western world embrace the concept of meditation, mindfulness, yoga in its manifold forms, vegetarian diet, the ecological movement, organic farming, an understanding of holistic health, holistic education, and a greater awareness of gender equality. So, many good things have been happening. Admittedly, the ascending energy still seems to be something experienced by the minority but, whenever there has been a major shift in the history of the world, it started with a small group of committed individuals, who were able to move things to a critical mass, so that those novel ideas were then accepted by the majority. Especially in the last five years there has been a huge shift in people’s perspective in terms of looking at all those factors mentioned.
All of our actions, emotions, behavior, and words, stem from a single thought – which vibrates at different frequencies. You have spent over 40 years reflecting on the power of thoughts and meditation. But what would you say is the one secret to controlling your thoughts?
Understanding the self as a spiritual being, I become aware that thoughts and feelings are the creation of the self. When I am stable in the awareness of the spiritual identity, it’s as if I can actually ‘see’ thoughts and know what is the feeling they will create. With that understanding I learn how to discipline my thoughts and manage them, so that thoughts begin to move in a more peaceful way and also a pure, elevated way. I truly become the master of my own thoughts and feelings, the sovereign of the self – a Raja Yogi.
You were invited to speak at the UN Climate Change Conference. Only in recent years have religious spiritual leaders been cared to attend such summits. What was the one thing you learnt from the whole experience/ what did you take away?
The scientific information that I’ve learned from climate change conferences is that it’s only if we can control carbon emissions to the extent that there is only a 1.5 degrees celsius rise in temperature worldwide, that we will be able to save the small island states. Even though there was a lot of fanfare about The Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in 2015, governments were talking about limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. But, even accepting that, there’s still a huge gap between the promises made by governments and the reality of what is going on in their countries. So, it feels as if we need to take personal responsibility and a change of lifestyle is high priority in order to contribute in a positive way. This is why religious and spiritual leaders have been called in, so that they can offer hope to people and through spiritual understanding enable them have the inner power to make the changes that are so desperately needed in the world.
If you had one message to give to the younger generation, what would it be?
The world is going through a very special time of transition and transformation. At such a time, young people are the hope for the future and, since the future of the planet is the future of young people, my message to the young would be to use time, money and inner, spiritual power in a creative and constructive way to serve the self but also serve the world.
Visit brahmakumaris.org to find out more about the Bramah Kumaris World Spiritual University, who they are and what they do.
I am a 29 years old of mixed race. Both of my parents come from humble backgrounds. Half American Palestinian growing up in Kuwait was complicated. I will never forget when my family and I were stuck in Kuwait when the desert storm war was taking place. The road trip to safety was long and dangerous. I recall being stopped at an Iraqi checkpoint and being told “no one is leaving Kuwait tonight, turn around or we will fire at your vehicle”. My mother instructed us to put our heads down and cover. We had no intentions of going back to Kuwait that night. Shots were fired at us throughout the dark night but luckily we finally reached the U.S embassy in Saudi Arabia. Up to this day nothing ever felt so moving than the feeling of safety and reuniting with my Family. We later found out that the brave young Kuwaiti who drove us was executed trying to help other families out.
After the war we moved back to Kuwait. Coming from an unpretentious background fitting in the material world never made sense, but the odd one out had to adjust. My question is, does the odd one out always have to be the one to adjust? Or was the odd one out simply misplaced? Finding my place in the world to become the person I was born to be was my mission. At a young age, I began to think that there had to be more to life. I started to play sports, soccer and baseball at school and throughout my university career. I learned sportsmanship, teamwork & harmony yet I still felt the need to fit in rather than focused on where I already did fit in. On the field, I always felt like a winner. My problem is I never felt like I fit in off the field.
My dad’s Family saw me as the American, my Moms Family viewed me as the Arab, the outcome of discussing my political views to either side of the family lead me to feeling misplaced and misunderstood. Failing to make a point as I was the one who saw both worlds. My world was never one-sided so how could I have made a point to someone whose was?
What do I sound like? Do I sound right? Am I being judged? Should I have said that? Becoming my biggest critic and my own worst enemy as I saw myself in other people’s eyes. I began to focus on the words of others and I started to doubt my own thoughts, which lead to a developing anxiety. I had to leave, I felt it was too materialistic. People cared more about my clothes rather than hearing what I had to say. I started to become like them; discriminating, judgmental and only cared about the material, which to me had no value. I decided I needed to leave, so I left.
I worked in the states for a while. I had friends who liked me for who I was and a job that was paying my bills and my entertainment. Yet, something was missing. I wanted answers. What is happiness? Can I buy it? Is it status? A new job? New city? I started looking for them in books. All that mattered at that moment was missing my parents, my soccer and the baseball kids who I used to coach. In that moment of reminiscing I didn’t think about the negative sides of the material world I left behind nor did I think about how I was judged, discriminated against or how I was being sucked into it. I only remembered what made me truly happy. Being surrounded by my parents, playing sports and teaching those younger than me brought true joy. The rest didn’t really matter to me anymore as I completely abandoned it.
I moved back to Kuwait this time with a goal in mind. I always had a tendency to attract and inspire those younger than me. I was also an individual who spoke his mind, encouraged others to improve and motivated younger generations to believe in themselves and in their abilities. Being cool didn’t come from my clothes or what I drove. It came from fair play, honesty, team work, respect for myself and others. Those are the things I carry with me as values which I live by and teach. Joseph Joubert said it best “To teach is to learn twice”. I am most happy when I can help make a positive impact on someone’s life especially if what they get out of the experience helps them rediscover their potential and achieve their dreams. “If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” is an African proverb. Supporting another’s dreams won’t ever dampen yours. Don’t let the pressures of today and tomorrow affect the support, care and development of the individuals that make up our communities.
Established in 1995, Scancom started from an idea, a garage, and two hard-working brothers who had a goal. Today, they are supplying airtime around the world and keeping businesses connected.
Journals of the World are pleased to confirm that we have collaborated with Scancom to provide a wider reach of communication. We sat down with both the brothers: Kal (Founder/ Sales Director) and Chen (Managing Director), to share their story and to give you an exclusive, first-ever interview…
What is the story behind Scancom?
At the age of 18 I was working for my dad in the clothing business. It had nothing to do with technology or telecoms. But I needed some extra income. At the time, mobile phones were the thing that everyone wanted. And I actually remember wanting a phone for myself but struggling to get my own. I tried various phone shops, but had no luck. It was at this point, I realised that there was a market for mobiles and money to be made.
I displayed a sign on the back of my Fiesta, advertising: ‘mobile accessories available.’ I purchased accessories from market stalls and local shops, added my margins, and sold them to friends and family. Before I knew it, it was generating substantial profit.
An advert was then placed in Micromart, a computer magazine at the time, costing £58 for an advert for 2 weeks. And to my surprise, my phone didn’t stop ringing – for cases, car chargers and accessories!
Before my brother joined the business, after work he would come home to do my invoices and accounting. It eventually got to the stage where it became too much business for just one person. So when the next mobile trade show came around, both of us attended. It was here that we managed to make contact with a supplier who agreed to supply to us directly – no longer did we need a middle man. After taking in all that we had experienced at the show, we walked outside and into the car park. My brother stopped, turned to me and said, ‘All these people in here are making money from cases and car chargers – shall I quit my job?’ I said, ‘Do it then. Quit.’ And the next day he quit his accounting job and came on board!
We both converted our double garage into a work place; I’d be on the road, selling every day, and he would do all the admin back in the office. We worked well together because we are two totally separate characters. If he’s too slow, I’ll speed him up and if I’m too fast he’ll slow me down. If I’m too loud, he’ll quieten me down and if he’s too quiet, I’ll louden him up. And that’s just the way it is.
Our first big order was in Manchester. The order actually came up to £900 (which to us, at the time, was like woah!) But the problem was, the customer requested a 30 day credit on the goods. It meant that we had to fund £900 worth of accessories, for 30 days. I was fine with it, but my brother was in a panic… ‘What if the guy doesn’t pay us!’ I said, ‘I think it will be ok, he’ll pay, he’ll pay.’
When I went to deliver the items, I realised it was a typical, trade wholesaler. I saw that the accessories were being stacked up in piles and baskets. So I asked, “Would you mind if I displayed the accessories for you, in your windows?” They were happy with it. So I took out a cabinet from the back of their warehouse, cleaned it and spent the next 2 hours displaying everything.
Selling accessories became a proper business for him, and he was calling us every other week for some more stuff. Then what happened, was another mobile phone shop opened in Manchester – right next door. They called us and asked if we could work with them, and we said ‘Sure!’ Eventually, we spread to Birmingham, to Bolton, to everywhere! People were actually calling up and saying, ‘Have you got the Scancom branded accessories?’
At the time the next big step was to get a credit card terminal. Today it’s easy to take online payments in a matter of minutes, but back then it was very difficult! Around that time online fraud was high and banks were very reluctant to offer credit card services to technology industries. The defining moment came when the guy from the banks called us to say, ‘Don’t worry, your credit card terminal has been approved!’ This meant that we could now advertise nationally and start doing mail-order.
Once we got to understand the industry better, we grew to such a level that trucks were pulling outside our house to deliver and collect items for shipping. Even the council wrote to us and told us we couldn’t trade from our garage, and hence, we had to search for another place…
We went from a garage to a small rented accommodation, on Bullhead street in Wigston, where we set up our first retail showroom. Although the building did not have retail planning permission, we continued to advertise it as a showroom and attracted queues daily! The council, again, told us that we could not trade from this premise as a retail showroom. Now we were pushed to move, but this time we decided we would buy our own building. So literally down the road, we bought our first boardroom/offices. We also opened the first One2One (later known as T-mobile) retail store, in Leicester High Street. Very quickly, Scancom became one of the most well recognised mobile phone outlets.
It then became transparent that our main focus was business. We partnered with Orange, as their business specialist at the time, and launched the first branded Blackberry centre in the country. In the UK, Salesforce won the SaaS Award which was based on how their software helped companies such as Scancom succeed. And over the next few years we became heavily involved with Salesforce.com, so much so we were asked to speak at several conferences and attend a press interview in London.
3 years ago, we expanded and moved out of our 3,500 square foot Wigston office. We moved into our purpose speced, 10,000 square foot offices at the Meridian Business Park – where we are located today.
We are now pleased to be ending 2016, by announcing our authorised partnership with BT (British Telecom) and recently being awarded the Fastest Growth Award. We aim to keep going and elevate all the Scancom family to greater heights. Looking after our customers, and always creating new and innovative products with our suppliers. This let’s us to keep pushing forward!
Where did the name Scancom come from?
Selling ladies wear in London meant that driving to London everyday became a little bit of an issue. So I went to work with our family company, Scan Computers, with my two cousins Shelly and Nelly Raja – back in my home town, Bolton. At the same time, travelling back and forth to Bolton 4 days a week (in a car that wasn’t, should I say, ‘reliable’), I bought my first mobile phone from a local shop in Leicester, where I lived.
After 18 months working with Scan Computers, selling phones and accessories became my secondary income. Over a beer and curry with Shelly, I asked if I could continue pursuing my way into the telecoms industy. Hesitantly, he agreed on the condition that I retain the name Scan, and hence, the name Scancom Distribution was registered.
Scancom began with selling accessories, that’s why we called it Scancom Distribution. We were distributing accessories around the UK. And at the time when we were a small garage, the word distribution sounded huge!
Starting up, was there anyone who particularly encouraged you and the idea?
A friend, Muno Munshi, who not only gave advice on how to start a business, but also offered the financial support if we needed it. To show encouragement he was the first official Scancom customer. He purchased an item that he probably didn’t want, simply to give me a boost.
We were also very lucky to come across a few people who put their faith in us, and gave us some of the much needed breaks to kick start things. We can’t forget these people and off course our Scancom Family who keep pushing everyday!
For Scancom, what has been the secret to success?
The secret to the success behind Scancom, is the people we have. Whether this be external or internal: family, staff, networks, or customers. Those around the company and especially the Scancom Team, all have a sense of unity and trust.
The Scancom team are not simply our employees, we are like a Scancom family with a common goal. That goal is Scancom – to make it grow.
What has been the greatest achievement?
Our customers. Old and new. To us that is an achievement. To be able to hold onto our existing customers and to continue to grow with new ones.
Being in the telecoms industry for over 2 decades, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
To be honest, we don’t think there has ever been a challenge in those terms. Know why? Because we don’t look at anythng as a challenge – instead we see the opportunity. Not saying that it’s easy. There is an uphill battle every day and things can always go wrong, but we look for ways to turn the challenges into opportunities.
What advice could you both give to young startups or entrenpeneurs?
Make sure you enjoy what you are about to embark on. Make sure you believe in it. Don’t listen to too many people and have confidence in what you are doing. Put all your commitment into it. And remember to keep persisting, because if you lose that then you can lose it all in one go. – Chen, Managing Director
Just do it and don’t look back. Take the first step. And if it doesn’t work, keep trying. Just keep doing it, because if it worked for me, it’s got to work for you.- Kal, Sales Director
“Over 25 years working in the technology industry, I’ve met many organisations that collaborate to deliver services to customers. Scancom are one of those companies who truly value the relationships with the people behind the partnership. Chen and Kal build trust and an open dialogue about how their partners add value to their own strengths. Their story illustrates the potential of a clear vision, determination to succeed and recognition of the power of partnership.” – Steve Rathborne, Director, Partner Channel at BT Business and Public Sector
J. Ivy, Grammy award winning Poet & Author, has mastered his artistry of words and language. Known for his work with Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Kanye West, Jay-Z, John Legend and Deepak Chopra. When it comes to the art of Hip-Hop Poetry, J. Ivy is the essence of when pen meets pad. He is a pioneer, a trendsetter, one who has knocked down impossible doors, taking the Art of Poetry directly to today’s mainstream music & television arenas.
After touring with his book “HERE I AM: Then & Now,” which is a follow-up to his album “HERE I AM,” J. Ivy released his new and most recent book “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain,” where bares his soul in this inspirational memoir of pain transformed into healing and empowerment.
J. Ivy is a modern day renaissance man magically merging art and leaving a beautiful mark for the world and the future to embrace.
Featuring your poetry in Kanye’s debut album, The College Dropout, was a huge success. ‘Never let me down’ was the song that earned you a Grammy award, but can you recall your first impressions of working with two of the biggest names in hip hop today, Jay-Z and Kanye? How was the whole experience for you?
The experience was like something out of a movie. I met Kanye a few times in the Chi but when I moved to New York there were a lot of Chicago moves who had also made the move, one being Kanye. It was in NY where I was able to build, kick it with, and get to know Ye. Being around him it was easy to see that he was a megastar. I remember him performing “Hey Mama” for me and six other folks with so much passion. He rocked for the seven of us like we were 7000. I knew then that he was convicted to what he was doing and had the talent to back it up.
I was also a huge fan of Jay-Z from the work he did on Reasonable Doubt to The Blueprint, so months later when my buddy Coodie, who was in the studio filming Kanye at the time, called me about being on a record with Ye and Jay-Z I was hyped about the opportunity, I was in disbelief, I wanted to be at the top of my game, I wanted to write something special, so without hesitation, I prayed to God to guide my words and went to work. I wrote something in my Brooklyn apartment, called Coodie back in ten minutes, who was in LA, and spit the poem for him over the phone. Next thing I know he has me on the speaker phone spitting it for Kanye and every listening ear in the lab for the next half hour. Before I knew it, Coodie was back on the phone telling me Kanye was flying me to LA the next day to record the song. From that moment, to Def Jam calling me to book my flight, to practicing the piece on the plane, to touching down and heading to the studio it all felt like a dream. I was still fresh off of being on Def Poetry and for me still was an amazing next step in the right direction. Here I was laying down something for 2 of the greatest ever and I was PROUD of my contribution and thankful for the opportunity…GOD is GOOD!!
Your mother was someone who influenced you greatly, through her encouragement and support. Your father was a DJ in the 80s, and on the radio you would listen to him on the way to school in the mornings. What valuable lessons did you learnt from them?
My Mother, now retired, was a registered nurse who worked at a dialysis center when I was growing up. Day in, day out, I watched her leave out early and get home late as she made a living by helping people live and fight for their lives. Yes, it was her job, but the compassion and heart she showed folks she didn’t know before they were carted in or walked through her doors, was extraordinary. A healer by nature, she always encouraged me to have that same compassion towards others in all that I do.
My Father was such a creative spirit. His voice was strong, soothing, and warm. His ability to tell stories made everyone volunteer their ear and their attention. Not only was he an amazing storyteller but music rushed through him as well. He played the saxophone, he acted in plays, had some small extra parts on TV, and he loved spinning his records in the basement of our South-Side home in Chicago. Seeing him move in his creativity naturally had a profound effect on me.
The two of them were both passionate about what they did and they both worked hard at it. For me, because of these special two people, I’ve always looked at myself as someone who was put here to use my voice to help heal people. The love they infused in me is the fuel to help me do just that.
What exactly inspires you?
I’m inspired by life, by love, and knowing that God has giving me something so special to share my thoughts, ideas, stories, feelings, and experience. I’m inspired by my family, by my city, and the culture that I’ve been born and bred in. I’m inspired by leaving this beautiful place better than I found it.
You always strive for growth, whether this be with yourself or with your work. But what has been your most rewarding achievement so far?
My most rewarding experience has been inside of the classroom and performing at youth events. There’s nothing more gratifying than having the chance to share your story and your gift with those who have their whole lives in front of them. They exist in a place where they’re trying to find themselves, lean on the things that they love, the natural ability they have been gifted with and most times they need that inspiration and insight. They need to know the power of possibility. They need to know that their voice matters. They need to know their worth and their value. And when I or other leaders in the community get a chance to stand before them and give them a glimpse of the ups and downs, the challenges, the expectations, and the opportunities that may come their way – that’s a blessing. Whenever I get a chance to tell them to trust themselves, have no fear, and lead with love, all while they hang on every word, it’s nothing more rewarding than that. Especially when so many did the same for me and I’ve been blessed to be in a position to give back the same way they did. You never know how valuable the impact of that moment can be. It can be life changing.
You say that ‘Dreams Don’t Come True, They Are True’. What was/is your dream?
My dream was and is to create works of art that will inspire someone and put a smile on someone’s face. From books to albums to acting on a big screen my dream is to continue to lift up others, especially the youth. I want to take what I’ve learned over the years, from life experience to advice to things I’ve read or music that’s inspired me, and poetically pass on that wisdom showing people across the world how connected we are. That’s the dream. The dream is real. The dream is now. In this moment, I’m living it out, even as I’m sitting here writing this.
Known as the poet who gave John Legend the idea for his stage name. You were inspired by his music because it reminded you on that old school sound. Why do you think many argue that music today doesn’t have the same feel? Do you even think there is anything missing?
Honestly, I don’t think anything is missing. There’s so much amazing, soulful, inspiring music out here right now. From Tribe to Common to De La to Anderson Paak to Avery Sunshine to Tarrey Torae to BJ the Chicago Kid to Kendrick Lamar to Chance the Rapper and on and on and on, the music that is needed to inspire us is there. Now is it always made available through the radio? That’s a different story. But if you have a computer, some WIFI, and the willingness to dig in the crates the music that is needed to send good vibrations through your soul is definitely available. I do think we had a period of time where things got stale but what has come from that is absolutely amazing!
If you could give a message to the younger generation, what would that be?
Again, it’s important that whatever you do in life that you love yourself first. You have to have genuine love for self. Better the good things. Focus on minimizing the bad things. That love will translate in to the belief you’ll need in yourself, your gifts, your dreams, and your plans. Speaking of plans, make them. Set goals, short and long term. Have no fear going after those goals and dreams. Fear stunts growth, so if you want to grow you have to let it go. TRUST yourself, your instinct, and your gut. Be a leader, but leadership starts with leading yourself. Don’t be afraid to listen to your inner voice, your Godsense, and by all means, LEAD with LOVE!!
To find out more about J.Ivy, his work and his journey, check out www.J-Ivy.com
You can also follow him and keep up with his new projects on Twitter @J_Ivy
For those of you who are interested, also take a read of his latest book, “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain.” J.Ivy sat down with pen and paper and processed his pain the only way he knew how through poetry. The resulting poem, Dear Father, became his vehicle of forgiveness and healing. It is a pivotal poem that has touched and inspired the lives of millions.
Fused with his signature raw lyricism and street consciousness, J. Ivy s memoir shows what it takes to deal with your emotions before your emotions deal with you. His story is personal yet universal, and will inspire others to channel whatever pain they have experienced into their own powerful gift of expression.”